The United Kingdom faces an unprecedented shortage of HGV drivers. According to the 2020 report by ITV the figure increased to 76.000 from 59.000 reported in 2019. While the global pandemic slowed down the growth of this figure – according to FTA it is projected that this figure will increase up to 257.000 drivers by 2020.
In addition, many companies relied on EU drivers who, as a result of Brexit, returned home along with their skills and capabilities to reduce the growth of the driver’s shortage.
This could bear disastrous consequences to the United Kingdom’s supply chain. The UK relies heavily on lorry haulage for its supply chain and economic development. The Haulage industry is responsible for moving 90% of the UK economy. Therefore the shortage may cause substantial disruption in the delivery of basic goods and services.
This will significantly hamper the post-pandemic economic recovery.
What is causing the shortage of HGV Drivers?
The shortage is caused mainly by the ageing demographics of the industry. The average age of an HGV driver is between 47 and 55 with only 1% of the drivers being under the age of 25. Many of the drivers are quickly approaching the retirement stage.
Despite the fact that the average wages in the Haulage are higher than other industries, it is estimated that over 60.000 qualified drivers are finding work elsewhere. As a result, companies have to effectively compete for the highly qualified drivers.
Impact of the COVID-19
Lockdown impacted HGV drivers significantly by polarising the industry. On one side, demand for drivers increased due to grocery supplies and stores operating at maximum capacity. On the other side, drivers providing haulage to hospitality sectors have often been furloughed.
Training is also affected by noticeable delays and a significant backlog of drivers waiting for their licence to be approved – furtherly escalating the shortage.
What’s the future of the haulage industry?
With European drivers returning home and young people being resistant to obtain qualification, Haulage jobs will be in huge demand. The companies will have to compete for the qualified candidates and the wages will likely see significant increase.
Road Haulage Association is also calling for government action to increase the availability of training and funding for potential candidates. They also campaign for the improvement of driver’s facilities and general well-being. A full list of the recent RHA actions in this matter can be found here.
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